Tonight was meant to be the one where a number of Baytown-area kids went to bed and dreamt about waking up the next morning to embark on a new season of little league baseball and softball.
Instead, they have been put on pause for the past week with the outbreak of COVID-19 that has paralyzed much of the nation and in turn, shut down Baytown Little League and local fastpitch softball along with Highlands Little League for the time being.
Baytown Little League’s Opening Day was set for Saturday, but last week, its board of directors announced the shuttering of play until further notice.
“All decisions we make are done in the best interest of our players and their families,” read a March 13 post on the league’s Facebook page. “As a precaution, Baytown Little League will be suspending all activities (including discontinuing practices) until further notice.”
They also said not only was the shutdown a recommendation passed down from Little League International but in “response to our school district postponing the return of the students,” until April 10.
No start-up date has been made available, although Little League International recommends a May 11, earliest start date.
“We are taking advice from the Baytown schools, the park districts and Baytown Little League International… before we make a decision,” Domingo Lopez, BLL president, said. “It’s very disappointing because everyone looks forward to the start of little league season. For the 12-year-olds, it’s the last year for them until they age out and for the t-ballers, this was supposed to be their first year.”
Highlands Little League president Kevin Boyd, said play was suspended last Friday as well and has been recommended to not return until April 6, which coincides with GCCISD’s planned return to classes.
But that has changed.
“We have since pushed that date to May 11,” Boyd said. “It’s just a recommendation, but we don’t have to follow it. As long as schools are out, we are going to.
“To me, everything will be based on what Little League International does with its tournament. If it decides to forego their international tournament, then that opens up all June and July … so our teams can participate in our postseason tournaments.”
Boyd said the kids he has talked to are handling the situation as expected.
“They want to be out and about,” he said. “For the most part, they understand the situation that is going on.”
Baytown Girls Fastpitch Softball Association, for ages 4-12, also announced on Facebook on March 13 that it would postpone the league’s activities for two weeks.